There are few games that simply redefine the term terrible. The Fantastic Four game from Acclaim for the Playstation is one that one can call craptacular. The story goes that Acclaim knew that the game was terrible but because of the way that the license from Marvel Comics was written, it would have cost them more to shelve the game then release it. It was released in 1997 and was universally panned by critics and players.
The game packaging touts the epicness of the gameplay as “Join Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Human Torch, and the Thing on their greatest mission ever – as they face the villainous Dr. Doom. Authentic moves, 3D interaction (throw cars and rocks!, hidden levels, and frenzied 4-player pandemonium! IT’S CLOBBERING TIME!”
Wow that really sound great doesn’t? Well here is what all of that excitement looks like.
Yes it’s a bad as you think it is. I will never forget the review that Next Generation Magazine did at the time. Unfortunately I can’t find the review to post in its entirety but I will never forget how the review started off. “We would like to apologize to all of the games that we have given one star reviews to. They were merely terrible games.”
As you can see from the video above the graphics are really terrible even for the PS1 at the time the game was released. The character designs were blocky and ugly and the game was really a 2D side scrolling game that didn’t have any 3D elements that the package touted. The music sounds like 1970’s porno soundtrack. The controls are clunky and hard to maneuver the characters on-screen. The game was a real train wreck. The game is a standard brawler like Streets of Rage or Golden Axe that were popular during the 16 bit era but in the Fantastic Four’s case it looked dated and out-of-place. The problem with a lot of these “beat em up” games was that it was difficult to line up your characters to fight the bad guys. The other problem with the game beyond the blandness of it was that they gameplay was pretty much the same for each level. The background changed but the actual gameplay did not. It a rinse, lather, and repeat type of game that gets very boring very quickly. Acclaim was never know for great games but this one was worse than their usual low bar standards. Acclaim’s games were licensed based on movies and other media properties that used the name to sell the games.
So you ask what is the point in reviewing this game? This is a must have game for any serious classic game collector. The reason is that it’s easy to collect the good games because they sold well and there are many copies out there. In the case of the Fantastic Four game the game did so poorly that there are very few copies out there and even less complete copies. There is something about having really awful games in your collection. Some other classic misfires in the consoles are the infamous E.T. game for the Atari 2600, that is remembered for E.T. falling into a hole and you couldn’t get out. Superman for the N64 that was knows as the Superman vs the fog game because the developers were so lazy with the backgrounds that the fog covered the lack of detail in the distance. The two Zelda games for the Philips CD-I system that were licensed by Nintendo for the system. Shaq Fu that starred Shaquille O’Neal that is nearly unrecognizable in this infamously terrible fighting Game. A quick look on eBay there are only 8 listings for the game and only 4 are complete. While the game does not go for a ton of money it’s a harder to find game.
The list goes on but there is something special about playing a game that you know is truly awful. In the case of the Fantastic Four game one of the more fun things to do in the game is make the characters dance in the game to the porno soundtrack. You wait until you have cleared the area of foes and then toggle the controls back and forth to make them dance. Trust me in that is a lot more fun then trying to get the characters to actually do things in the game that you are supposed to do.
As a classic gamer I find that the more unusual games are the ones that are better for collecting. A game doesn’t need to be scarce to be rare. Selling price is based on demand not units available in most cases. And while the Fantastic Four game is not rare my any means it’s one of those gems that I have in my collection that is a real conversation game. And if you pop this game in for someone who has never seen the game before, it definitely make for quite a conversation for sure.